Today’s rant is about the growing rift within our community as we march toward equality. I’m feeling a bit long-winded today, be warned.1
With the progress toward equality, not just under the law but also in the heart & minds of middle America, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately. It seems many do not like the march for equality because it would somehow mean giving up some of our culture’s ‘uniqueness’ or ‘queerness’ or whatever subjective term de jour you prefer. Even worse, many of the said folks have begun belittling those who want inclusion. One has only to delve in the recent SF Pride/Bradly Manning scandal to see it. Actually, you can delve into pretty any recent scandal involving gay culture and see it. The name calling, the condescending attitudes, the outright vitriol for anyone who might simply want to be included and not stand out. It is shameful and makes us no better than the crazy fundies. Oh, the fear might be different but the end is the same. I’m disappointed to see us turning on ourselves over something that should be a given.
Parts of our gay culture developed on different paths. For some, it developed as an abandonment of those who abandoned us.2 This group embraced the fact we were different. They began to celebrate and exemplify it. One might say it was liberating as they were freed from the constrictions of an overly restrictive puritanical moral code. In essence, they embraced everything that was outside the norm and rejoiced in the new found freedom it gave them. I would argue these outlets saved many from simply giving up. It is not an idea or approach that necessarily should be discarded. And as one would expect, many of these coping mechanisms became a way of life.
Then you have the holier-than-thou’s who thru ignorance and desperation cater to the idea that LGBT’s should avoid any display of stereotypes and conform. I guess they think if we look/act like the rest of society they’ll fear us less. Sadly, you see it most in the so called conservative gays who let greed dictate their actions. This ideology is flawed because it relies on the premise that I somehow am less deserving of equality and have to earn it thru conformity. It’s not and I don’t.
Then you have what I refer to as the rest of us. The largest percentage of LGBT folks who’ve always felt like they’ve been on the outside looking in and wanted to be inside. We’ve spent most of our lives hoping and fighting for equality. And now that it is happening, we are thrilled beyond measure. For myself, there are parts of me that identify with the first and last groups mentioned above. I stepped away from much of the puritanical nonsense long ago. But I still yearn to be treated equally under the law and not feel like an outcast in society.
The holier-than-thou’s will most likely adapt the easiest. They’ll just shift their need for conformity to greed and keep going. It will barely make a blip on their radar. The first group though are the ones who are struggling with our growing acceptance and for obvious reasons. They developed outside the norm and the norm is now alien to them in many ways. They see it as a relic of the past to be discarded. And on some points, I’d probably agree with them. But that doesn’t make it ok to turn on those who do not see it that way. And to see many within said group turn to hatred is disappointing. It shows first they are not as evolved as they’d like to think for one. Two, it shows they are scared and acting out of misplaced fear to save their way of life. A way of life that might very well be in danger to some degree but not in total destruction.
I would argue that we do not need to be divided. We can accept and rejoice at our inclusion into mainstream society and still maintain the things that gave our culture so much pizazz. And my advice to anyone who resents mainstreaming, don’t be so quick to hate those who’s only goal in life is to feel included. Not everyone copes the same way and it should not be derided because of it. Looking down your nose at LGBT brethren only serves to make you more like the fundies who hate us. They hate us because we are different. They hate us because we don’t act the way they do. Don’t make their shallow un-evolved mistakes. Be the bigger person and embrace the fact we are merging back into society.
And we can merge w/o giving up our culture. Sure some things might change and/or shrink but that is only because this generation is driven to be included. The next generation won’t feel that drive as strongly3 and will be more likely embrace uniqueness. Instead of lamenting for the old days, continue on your path and be there to help show them the way. If you need an example, you only have to look within the black community. They’ve maintained a separate culture while still being a part of society as whole. We can do the same but with the flair and creativity that gives us some of our uniqueness.